FAQs

A.SWA is a trade union and not a film production company or employment agency. We can’t help our members find work. However, we do help our members with opportunities of networking and exposure with workshops, pitching sessions, conferences etc.

A.SWA is a trade union and not an employment agency. We neither differentiate among our members on the basis of skills/talent nor do we read/judge their scripts. Thus, we can’t help you find a writer or scripts.However, you may opt to advertise with us on our website provided you’re a member of one of the Producers' Association. Write to web.admin@swa-india.org

A.SWA does not share personal details of members with other members or non-members or agencies, without the strict written permission of the member whose details have been requested. (However, in matters of dispute, with the express permission of the General Secretary, a member's details can be shared with a legitimate agency.)

A.No. However, most of the producers will ask you to register your script/work with SWA, as it’s the correct and professional way to function. Furthermore, it helps if you run into any problems with fellow writers or Producers/Directors in matter of Copyright, credits, remuneration etc.

A. Yes. Our Dispute Settlement Committee will help you in such a situation; provided you’re able give adequate proof of Copyright infringement/ theft and if the said work was registered with us.

A.Once you become a member with SWA, you get the option of registering your work at our office or via our website.

A.You may contact the Registrar of Copyrights (Copyright Office), Delhi.You can email your script/work to yourself. The date on email will serve as a proof of your copyright on that particular date.There's also an option of mailing your script/work to yourself by registered post. The sealed envelope, date of the registry and the receipt will collectively serve as proof of your copyright on that particular date.

A.Yes. SWA’s Script Registration process is recognized and abided by the film industry as well as the entire body of film associations. However, it’s advisable to share only the registered softcopies (or the Xerox of the registered copies) as a deterrent to any Copyright infringement.

A.Yes, it is advisable to register ALL the drafts of your script/work, at every stage of rewrite before you share it professionally.

A.Yes. You can register work in all Indian scripts like Roman, Devnagari, Urdu, Tamil, Gurumukhi etc. at our office as well on the website.

A.No. You can either do it in person at the SWA Office or register online on the website. However, your representative can also register the script/work on your behalf at SWA office provided he/she carries your valid SWA Membership Card.

A.SWA provides registration for the following categories – Synopsis, Story, Script, Screenplay, Dialogue, Song and Mukhda.

A.

  • Number all the pages.
  • At the top of the first page leave space for a paragraph for the SWA registration stamp and signature.
  • The title, category of work and the name of the writer should be clearly written at the top of the first page, right before the main content.
  • You can register multiple Songs/Mukhdas in one document but do number and title them specifically and clearly.

A.You can get a handwritten manuscript registered at the SWA office, if it follows the prescribed guidelines. However, getting your material typed and generating a PDF is a prerequisite if you're registering online at our website.

A.

SCRIPT REGISTRATION FEES AT SWA OFFICE
The first page of Synopsis, Story, Script, Screenplay, Dialogue INR 20/-
After first page INR 2/- per page
Per Song INR 15/-
Per Mukhda INR 10/-
Welfare Fund INR 5/- per transaction
ONLINE SCRIPT REGISTRATION* FEES
The first page of Synopsis, Story, Script, Screenplay, Dialogue, Song & Mukhda INR 40/-
After first page INR 2/- per page
Welfare Fund INR 5/- per transaction
  • *Only ONE Article can be registered at a time. Registration of multiple Articles/Songs/Mukhda in a single document will lead to cancellation of the registration.

A.No. Whether one registers at office or online, the Association DOES NOT store or archive any member’s script/work, for secrecy and security purposes.

A. An email is sent to your registered email ID after every registration, carrying the registered PDF as an attachment. However, it may take a few minutes for this email to come to you. If you don’t receive the email even after a few hours, contact Technical Support.

A. May be, your PDF file had a compression ratio that is not compatible with our online system. Try again with a different PDF. If the money was deducted but the script was not registered then please contact Technical Support giving you transaction number. We will cancel your transaction and money will be credited to your account. Online free PDF convertors and free screenwriting softwares like CeltX can cause this problem. Use MS Word (or Mac Word), which have standard compression ratios, to convert your files to PDF.

A. You shall find only the scripts/work that you registered online after July 2014. Documents registered before this month were taken down from the website after repeated reminders and a year of notice on the website. Also, documents registered manually at our office won't show online.

A.Check your Membership Validity on the membership card. It might need a renewal.

A. No. Our Legal Officer provides consultation exclusively SWA members.

A. No. This service is free of charge.

A. No. One can meet our Legal Officer only at SWA office after taking a prior appointment. (Appointment timings: 3.00 - 6.00 PM, Monday to Friday)

A. While the SWA’s Legal Officer can certainly guide and advise its members on an existing contract, the services of drafting a contract for the writers does not fall in the dominion of the services of Legal Officer. However, we do have a database of competent advocates who can offer these services to you either for free or for a subsidized cost.

A.

  • Foremost, do not pitch/disclose your work to anyone, including a friend/family member/relative before having it registered, either with SWA or the Copyright Office.
  • Avoid pitching your work through personal meetings and/or on the phone. It is always advisable to have a paper trail in case of copyright theft or breach of confidentiality, and hence, email is a preferable mode of pitching your script to the producer and/or any other individual.
  • As far as possible, always insist on pitching the script to the official email ID of the person associated with a production house. Do not share your script without insisting on a Non-Disclosure Agreement (“NDA”) even if it is with a trusted individual. A standard template of the NDA can be found here.
  • If you are unable to enter into a Non-Disclosure Agreement with the person you pitch your script to, at least ensure that you include a disclaimer of confidentiality in the email containing your script as an attachment. You may refer to the following sample disclaimer, modified as per your requirement:

    “DISCLAIMER: This email contains confidential and privileged information, being shared with the recipient in trust. The information is being shared with the recipient only for the purpose of pitching [the script/concept] to the recipient and in case the recipient does not want to proceed to work with the author on the same, he may not save and/or retain the information in any form and delete and/or discard the same upon reaching such decision. Further, the contents of this email are not to be shared with any third party without the explicit permission of the author of the [script/concept], and any such sharing of information otherwise than with the consent of the author shall amount to a breach of confidentiality and trust and the author reserves the right to pursue legal action against the recipient in the occurrence of such breach of confidentiality.”

  • If you pitch your work to the producer through a personal meeting and/or narrate your script to the producer in person, always maintain a record of such meeting by sending an email to the producer either before or immediately after such meeting, detailing the discussion you had or are scheduled to have at the meeting.

A. An idea or concept is a seed, germ of a thought; which has not been worked upon to its capacity. An idea or concept, by sheer co-incidence can strike to more than one person at different time intervals. The best practice is to develop your ideas and concepts into treatments or stories and get them registered before narrating to anyone.

A. Screen Credits, are the titles that appear on the screen when the film/show is shown/aired. Your contract must state what credit/s you'll get and in what order they will appear. You can also negotiate on marketing related credits (like on posters, hoardings and other publicity etc.) by incorporating clauses about the same in your contract.  

A. No. Both the parties sign one single mutually agreed contract.

A. No. There are different contracts for Films, Television, Digital Media and Songs.

A. Yes. Refer to our Minimum Basic Contracts (Film, TV, Lyrics, Digital) here. Although strongly proposed by SWA, the MBCs are still at a conceptual stage and not yet approved by Producer Bodies. Also, they may have certain minor provisions missing. Use them as models for drafting your contract, making modifications as per your requirements.  

A. Your contract will determine what will happen when such a situation arises. A contract normally will have specific termination clauses.  Therefore, do ensure beforehand that the contract you sign is in conformity with the basic terms and conditions as stated above. 

A. Request the producer to enter into an agreement with you for assignment of copyright in your script. Do ensure that the agreement is in conformity with the basic terms and conditions as stated above.
If the producer is unable to enter into a full-fledged agreement at the moment, request the Producer to at least enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with you for a copyright assignment/license in your script before you work on any modifications suggested by the producer. An MoU is a preliminary document crystallizing the intention of the parties to enter into a Long Form Agreement at a later date. Please note that an MoU is not sufficient by itself and is only an understanding between the parties of the basic terms and conditions of their deal. Do not sign the MoU or any other legal document to that effect without reading and thoroughly understanding it and preferably having it examined by a lawyer.

A. An agreement forms a legal relationship between the parties where one party promises to deliver the goods/services (which, in your case, is the script/screenplay) and the other party promises to pay a valuable consideration for the goods/services in return. When such a legal promise is entered into, the breach of such promise (by either parties) would naturally attract a penalty in the form of damages. The party breaching the promise has to compensate the party who suffered a loss (monetary or otherwise). Avoiding a contract or non-performance of a contract amounts to a breach and would entitle the producer for compensation from you for the losses suffered due to your breach.
The amount for compensation of such losses would vary from case to case and would solely depend upon the contract you have entered into.

A. The term of validity of each contract differs and is completely dependent upon the wordings of your own contract. The termination and term of copyright also depend solely upon what your contract sets out.

A. NO. The writer has the most bargaining power to set out the terms of his contract fairly before such contract is signed. Once the contract is signed, no such oral promises of signing a better contract in the future are valid. A written agreement signed by both the parties supersedes any other oral agreement that the parties may have had. Do not sign any unfair contract based on the promises of a better contract in the future and/or assurance of the producer or any other parties that these unfair terms shall not be enforced on you. Any changes that you want present in your contract have to be made before you sign such a contract. Do not sign a contract unless you are completely satisfied of its fairness towards you.

A. SWA is speaking to experts on this issue and shall come up with a consolidating answer shortly.

A. Assuming that the agreement was executed in Bombay and governed by the Bombay Stamp Act:
Stamp duty value for ​a copyright assignment agreement:
(a) if the amount agreed (i.e., your consideration) does not exceed rupees ten lakhs - Two rupees and fifty paise for every rupees 1,000 or part thereof on the amount agreed in the contract subject to minimum of rupees 100.
(b) in any other case - Five rupees for every rupees 1,000 or part thereof on the amount agreed in the contract.
For Non-Disclosure (Confidentiality) Agreement: Since the same is not expressly stated under the Stamp Duty Act, it is my opinion that it will fall under the ‘miscellaneous’ category, for which the stamp duty is Rs. 100. The question of who pays the stamp duty would be usually addressed by your contract itself. However, the payment of stamp duty is flexible and can be paid by either parties or divided between both the parties, as per the parties’ mutual decision.

A. The rule of thumb for screenwriting fee is 2-5% of the total production budget. However, it largely depends upon the negotiations between the Producer and the writer. SWA is in the process of negotiating standard minimum wages with the Producer bodies.
See the Minimum Rate Cards proposed by SWA, here.

A. Usually, before you pitch your script/screenplay to the Producer, you are asked to sign a ‘release form’ or a ‘submission release’ which states that you shall not sue production company or be entitled to any compensation on the occasion of any similarities between the material submitted by you and any material which may be developed or is under development by the production house.
It is a standard industry practice for producers to make writers sign such release forms, wherein the writers waive their right to sue the producer or claim compensation in case of any similarity between their submission and any project that the producer may undertake. While this is done primarily to protect the legitimate interests of the producer, because it is quite possible that several writers may co-incidentally pitch the same story idea to the producer, or the production house may itself through its in-house team of writers be in the process of developing a similar idea, the legal wordings of such release forms are often quite harsh and skewed against the writers.
Please be assured however, that no release form/submission release can provide a producer a licence to commit copyright theft. If the writer can prove that his/her submission was actually stolen by the producer, then irrespective of the release, the writer can seek a legal remedy against the producer.
However, having said that, never sign away anything without first having understood it and weighing the implications of signing the document. What rights you are essentially signing away entirely depend on the wordings of your particular release and SWA would always advise you to have your release looked over and explained to you by a lawyer before you sign it.

A. No. SWA is a trade union, and its DSC provides support only to its members.

A. Try for a settlement, one last time, by formal email. You can also consider taking legal consultation from our Legal Officer. To file a complaint, submit the duly filled and signed DSC Complaint Form with the required documents. Learn more about filing a complaint with our DSC, here.

A. You should come to the DSC and they shall take your case forward. Taking any legal action without following the proper procedure would bar DSC to intervene at a later stage.  

A. Yes. The DSC can accept a case if there is enough evidence of Copyright infringement in the form of emails, text/Whats App messages etc. In absence of a contract, the DSC follows the Minimum Rate Card proposed by SWA.

A. Only if there is some kind of compensation generated towards the writer, as and when the case is resolved, 5 percent of it goes to SWA.

A. No. The Dispute Settlement Sub-Committee of SWA only takes up disputes related to films, TV and digital media.

A. No. This is not allowed as per DSC’s procedure prescribed in the DS Bye-Laws.

A. No. This is not allowed as per DSC’s protocol and the procedure prescribed in the DS Bye-Laws.

A.You can appeal against the verdict of the DSC, to Executive Committee of SWA.